Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Cochin Airport Among UN Environment Program’s Champions of Earth Award Recipients

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Cochin Airport Among UN Environment Program’s Champions of Earth Award Recipients

The United Nations Environmental Program announced on September 26th that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India-based airport Cochin International Airport are among the recipients of the UN’s Champions of the Earth Award.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among the six world leaders who been awarded with the UN’s highest environmental honor, Champions of the Earth Award at the United Nations this week. Modi has been recognized for his leadership of the International Solar Alliance and pledge to eliminate single use plastic in India by 2022. Cochin International Airport in the southern Indian state of Kerala has been awarded for Entrepreneurial Vision.

“This years’ laureates are recognized for a combination of bold, innovative and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues of our times,” the UN Environment Program said.

The Champions of the Earth Awards, the UN’s highest environmental honor, honored six outstanding environmental changemakers, recognized for their achievements in categories including Policy Leadership, Entrepreneurial Vision, Science and Innovation, Inspiration and Action, and Lifetime Achievement.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Modi have been jointly recognized in the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action, including Macron’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi’s unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.

Cochin International Airport has also been honored this year with the award for Entrepreneurial Vision, for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy. “Cochin is showing the world that our ever-expanding network of global movement doesn’t have to harm the environment. As the pace of society continues to increase, the world’s first fully solar-powered airport is proof positive that green business is good business,” UNEP said.

The other winners of the 2018 Champions of the Earth Awards are Joan Carling, recognized with the lifetime achievement award for her work as one of the world’s most prominent defenders of environmental and indigenous rights. Carling has been at the forefront of the conflict for land and the environment for more than 20 years.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are jointly recognized in the Science and Innovation category, for their revolutionary development of a popular, plant-based alternative to beef, and for their efforts to educate consumers about environmentally conscious alternatives.

China’s Zhejiang’s Green Rural Revival Program is awarded for Inspiration and Action for the transformation of a once heavily polluted area of rivers and streams in East China.

“In a world of uncertainty, this is certain: We will not solve the extraordinary challenges our world faces today without extraordinary talent, new thinking and bold ideas,” said Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim. “The Champions of the Earth Award and Young Champions of the Earth Prize recognize those not afraid to chart unknown waters or be the voice of the voiceless. These people are changing our world today for a better tomorrow.”

The awards will be presented during the Champions of the Earth Gala in New York City, on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly. The gala, hosted by actor and environmental activist Alec Baldwin and model, actress, producer and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza, will bring together a cross section of world leaders and influencers to celebrate momentum for change in defense of our one planet.

The Champions of the Earth award is the UN’s highest environmental recognition celebrating exceptional figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society, whose actions have had a transformative positive impact on the environment. Past laureates include: Afroz Shah, who led the world’s largest beach cleanup (2016), Rwandan President Paul Kagame (2016), former US Vice-President Al Gore (2007), Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat (2014), scientist-explorer Bertrand Piccard, and developer of Google Earth Brian McClendon (2013).

Cochin International Airport will take home the award for Entrepreneurial Vision, for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy. Cochin is showing the world that our ever-expanding network of global movement doesn’t have to harm the environment. As the pace of society continues to increase, the world’s first fully solar-powered airport is proof positive that green business is good business, the release said.

The biggest and busiest airport of Kerala state in India, and the fourth busiest airport in India in terms of international traffic, Cochin International Airport became the world’s first fully solar powered airport in 2015 – a project pioneered by managing director Vattavayalil Joseph Kurian.

“In a world of uncertainty, this is certain: We will not solve the extraordinary challenges our world faces today without extraordinary talent, new thinking and bold ideas,” said the head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim. “The Champions of the Earth Award and Young Champions of the Earth Prize recognize those not afraid to chart unknown waters or be the voice of the voiceless. These people are changing our world today for a better tomorrow.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sept. 27 expressed his gratitude to the global community for conferring upon him the UN award, and dedicated it to the countrymen and the country’s tradition of coexisting with nature.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the global community for conferring this honor upon me. This honor is not meant for an individual, but rather for the great Indian tradition, through which for centuries, we have been taught values like co-existing with nature,” Modi said in a video message. He said he was delighted that “the human race has begun to accept the importance of nature.”

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